Yes, it’s that time.
We’ve reached the exciting milestone with EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE of finalizing the cover art, but before I unveil the cover I’d like to take a moment—or a blog entry or two—to look at the concept of covers. What do they do? What do they add or take away from a book? I’ve been twice lucky to work with a publisher on choosing a cover image, and both times I’ve been intentionally easygoing throughout the process, believing that the title and the cover of the book was more about marketing and selling. My business is to write the books, right? I was happy to leave the marketing decisions—a concept that make most writers cower in the protective illumination of their laptops—to the publishing professionals. If they thought these covers would sell, I was happy to have them beautifying the front of my stories.
I’ve been thinking more about covers in the past few months, though. There is a meeting of arts in the process of making a book, a fusing of the visual and the written to create something new. A finished book is no longer a manuscript. It has a design, a form, and the cover is the siren riding the crest of that package, beckoning readers inside. I like to think that I shop for books by the author’s name and reading the synopsis and maybe this is actually true on my Kindle, but in the bookstore how do I decide to pick that book up and flip it over? I can’t go on author recognition alone, because one of the great quests of readers everywhere is finding our next favorite author. So I look at the cover. I scan the title. And in the milliseconds before my eyes move on to the next book, my brain processes the art and the words and makes the snap decision of whether to be intrigued.
When I think about covers and what a cover can bring to a book, there are a few that always rise to the top for me.
One of my favorite all-time covers is LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. The coloring and font of CHOLERA’s first edition cover permeate the entire text when I read it. I’m instantly immersed in the rich, old world drama of Florentino and Fermina’s youth. And the yellow. Who found this yellow that can evoke the warmth of an eternal sun and, simultaneously, a story forgotten and aged in its unforgiving light?
The photograph on the cover of MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL is simply iconic and was responsible for rocketing Bird Girl to instant fame. The statue had to be removed from the Bonaventure Cemetery due to the number of visitors it attracted after the book’s publication and is currently on display at the Jepson Center for the Arts. I love this example of three mediums meeting—statue, photograph, written word—and becoming something new. They are changed by their interaction, and each reader changes them again by bringing their unique point of view to the book. (I cite the observer effect in physics here, because why should literature be exempt from hard science?)
So in summary, covers are important. They shape and change the book underneath them, and I’m excited to showcase the covers that have been chosen for my books. Stay tuned for your first peek…